Chapter 26


9/15- Redone a scene due to criticism.


Team Sigma

The Blasted Lands


"My god." Said High Elf Archer in horror as she walked around the remains of the Alliance camp with Courier and some Spectres and Titans. Well, what they saw anyway. There was a massive hole in the middle of where the camp had been located in with only the outer skirts of the camp surviving. The group had been informed by an Alliance soldier that something was attacking the Alliance and scrambled to help them and the Horde, believing that the Orcs from another world was attacking both camps before they could become a threat, only to come too late. "W-what did this?"

"Judging by edges of this hole and the radiation my Pip-Boy is , I'd say some explosions had been placed underneath the camp and caused it to sink down." Said Courier as he checked his wrist-mounted computer for any significant amount of radiation that would impair their ability to travel down and find survivors.

"How did the Orcs managed to do this?" Asked High Elf Archer, finding it hard to believe the Iron Horde, they received the name from the survivors before going to inspect the damage wrought in the Alliance camp, managed to do this to the Alliance and from what BT and Chief told them of the Horde camp, the same thing happened with the Horde. A giant hole replaced where the camp was. She couldn't fathom how Orcs that placed so much emphasis on personal honor would do something like this, even someone like Garrosh.

"I got the feeling it wasn't the Iron Horde that did this." Said Courier as he looked around, trying to find clues in the remains of the Alliance camp to get a good understanding of what went down. There wasn't much, but enough to make him understand that this wasn't the enemy's fault at all. They didn't take the territory from the Alliance for their own use and there weren't banners of the enemy around, nor was there evidence of much plundering from the remains of the camp. All anthesis these off-world Orcs were seemingly about. Someone else was behind this. Who, he didn't know, but had a feeling he'll know soon enough.

"You think that Jack is…" Started High Elf Archer, but was interrupted by Courier.

"Don't think so. Guy is a good fighter. Anyone that can survive this, he can." Said Courier as he looked around. "For now, let's speak with the survivors. Try to get an understanding on what happened here." High Elf nodded before the two let to go ask survivors what transpired here.


Sometime ago

Blasted Lands

Horde camp


"I suppose that I won't get an answer if I ask what Sylvanas wants of me personally?" Asked Jack as he was escorted by two Forsaken soldiers. The three had been trudging into the Horde camp after they went through a portal that led them to the Blasted Lands from Suramar. All around him, he saw various Horde races either preparing for war against the Orcs currently invading Azeroth or were simply conversing with each other over a myriad of things. A few of them cast glances at Jack, wondering why it was just him and not the rest of team Sigma, but for the most part, the majority of Horde soldiers either ignored him or just pretended he didn't exist, which was fine with Jack.

The Forsaken soldiers that escorted him didn't answer, only trudging forward to where, Jack could only assume, was where Sylvanas was waiting. As they walked, Jack wondered what the undead banshee could possible want with him. Was it about her sister? For all he knew, Vereesa didn't tell her about their ongoing relationship. Though if she did, that would explain why Sylvanas specifically requested him. So, she could do the annual big sibling warning to the boyfriend/girlfriend of their younger siblings that if they harm them, they'll answer to the big sibling. If that's the case, then Jack had to watch what he said.

Not only was Sylvanas the leader of the Horde, but she had powers that he just trained to deal with that she can easily use to kill him if she wanted to. So, it's best for him to keep her on her good side. Even if he disagreed with her methods.

From what he gathered, Sylvanas was one of the most immoral and evil of the Horde leaders. She killed the son of Genn Greymane, sparking a grudge between the two, and killed countless people in the man's city, not discriminating between civilian or soldier. Such a figure would normally have Jack pull his gun on them and kill them, but he refrained, knowing that would be a bad idea if he did it now for a myriad of reasons. So, no matter how much his instincts were telling him to kill her, he refrained from doing so. Besides, from what he saw in Pandaria with her sister, it seems there's still good in Sylvanas, perhaps enough for her to change for the better. At least he hoped so.

Eventually, the Forsaken soldiers escorted him a watch tower that was meant to keep an eye out for anything approaching the Horde camp. Stopping before the stairs, the Forsaken soldiers motioned him to go up, which he did. Going to the very top, Jack could see Sylvanas overlooking the Blasted land, a stoic expression on her face.

"Keeping a look out yourself?" Asked Jack, looking at Sylvanas as she crossed her arms, still overlooking the landscape before her.

"It helps keep my focus." Said Sylvanas as she looked at Jack. "Unlike those fools in the Alliance, we Horde leaders know the importance of being on the battlefield and leading from the front. It inspires the troops, motivates them to fight harder. Don't you agree?" Jack, seeing the test before him, spoke up.

"I see the merits, but also the downsides." Said Jack. "A leader on the battlefield presents an irresistible target for the enemy. If they take him out, morale drops as the people they're leading realize they have no leader to guide them in battle, leading to an easy rout for the enemy."

"True." Said Sylvanas as she traced a finger across the smooth wooden surface of the tower, which had obviously been made by elves due to it's craftmanship. "But those leaders that survive keep their skills sharp and they understand the hard work that their soldiers put into fighting for the causes they ask them to. Correct?"

"True." Said Jack, wondering where Sylvanas was going with this. "But the cons far outweigh the pros, in my opinion, Sylvanas. Especially if the enemy has skilled assassins to kill them without anyone noticing and then takes advantage of it. Something you're familiar with. You tried to do it with Genn, after all." Sylvanas actually let loose a chuckle at that.

"Hm, japs at me and my work. Bold." Commented Sylvanas as she looked at Jack fully with her ruby-like eyes. "I respect that. Already you're a step up from Vereesa's first husband, Rhonin."

"Take it you don't like him?" Asked Jack.

"Yes and no." Clarified Sylvanas. "I will admit Rhonin was a naïve fool that got on my nerves with his attempts to create peace between the Horde and Alliance with all the bad blood between the two factions, but he made my sister happy and that is sufficient for me. I won't even deny that he's quite a catch as well. My sister knows how to choose them apparently. You're also quite handsome if her letters are any indication."

"So, you're keeping in contact with each other." Said Jack. "That's great. I trust you two are bonding again."

"In a matter of speaking." Said Sylvanas as she crossed her arms under her bust. "I'll admit, it's…good to have a sistership with Vereesa again. I thought that we would never have one again unless we're both undead, but…we're trying, regardless that she's among the living and I'm not. And it's working."

"So, are you here to thank me?" Asked Jack, confused. "Because you should be thanking Courier too as he's the one that prevented you from ripping Vereesa's head off when she told you she was breaking her promise." Sylvanas tilted her head at that.

"Yes, I know, but I wished to speak with you first." Said Sylvanas. "After all, it's your encouragement that made Vereesa decide to speak with me personally rather than through a letter. So, really you're the first I should be thanking for my current relationship with my sister. Plus, I wanted to talk with you regarding your own relationship with my sister as well."

"Yup there it is." Thought Jack. "Called it."

"I know what you're going to say." Said Jack. "Hurt her in any way, and you'll kill me with the added bonus of reviving me as an undead, only to kill me, again right?" Sylvanas smirked at that.

"I see we understand each other. Good." Said Sylvanas. "Vereesa has chosen well. And here I was thinking she choose poorly when she began dating the one that kidnapped her children." Jack tensed up at that.

"She told you about that?" Asked Jack, rubbing his neck.

"Oh yes." Said Sylvanas, recalling just how livid she was at hearing that. She would have summoned Jack to hurt him when Vereesa calmed her down enough, saying she punished Jack sufficiently for it, telling her exactly how she did it. "I trust your reproductive organs can still give her children, right?" Jack coughed a bit at that.

"We'll see." Said Jack, looking over at the Blasted Lands. "I'm guessing you want team Sigma to help out with taking the Orcs right?"

"Yes." Said Sylvanas. "For starters, however, they're called the Iron Horde on account of their use of metal and advanced technology. And yes, before you ask, Garrosh is indeed responsible for everything. Again. He's traveled back in time to create this Iron Horde, had them create the dark portal, and invade Azeroth akin to the first Orc invasion, only with more advanced technology on their side. We've pushed them back to their portal and we're gathering up what forces we can to take it from them. We were hoping for your assistance in this matter."

"Don't worry, we'll help out." Said Jack. "The rest of the team was helping out the Nightborne with a regional problem they had concerning outside threats that involved people from our worlds." Upon hearing that, Sylvanas raise an eyebrow.

"What outside threats? Are they threats to all of Azeroth as well?" Asked Sylvanas, she knew they were from other worlds, that much was pretty obvious, but what threats from their worlds are here that went without their notice. Wondering if he should tell her, Jack was about to reply when suddenly Sylvanas's ears twitched. Before either of them could react, explosions erupted all over the Horde camp, sending both of them to the ground.

"What the hell?" Yelled Jack as he tried to get up, only to be sent back to the ground when another wave of explosions erupted in the camp. Already he was hearing screams of pain and people trying to organize soldiers all over the camp. Sylvanas, meanwhile, struggled to get up to observe what was happening, wondering what was attacking them and how they avoided their forward scouts. Looking outwards towards the Blasted Lands, Sylvanas saw a massive horde of something coming out of giant tunnels that weren't there before. Looking at the horde of things, Sylvanas noticed an object coming towards the watch tower she and Jack were in.

Seeing it come at them, Sylvanas yelled at Jack to jump before doing it herself. Jack, seeing what was coming, yelled out as the object crashed near the tower and exploding, forcing Jack off the tower as it was destroy in the explosion. Using his jump pack, he avoided a fatal fall, but was still knocked out from the impact.


Meanwhile

Alliance camp


"Yes. Yes. Little rats. Scurry and fight those fools. Distract them from realizing the true prize in this battle." Said a masculine voice as it watched large hordes of rats engage and kill the Alliance forces in the camp set up as a forward operating base before their assault on the dark portal of the Iron Horde. Another large force of rats were also attacking the Horde camp as well, weakening both sides and delaying them from attacking the Iron Horde and taking the fight to Draenor. While he was sure these attacks would set both back considerably, the voice was here for another reason. One that, if he successfully acquires, can have dire consequences for Azeroth. Yes indeed.

Looking over the battlefield from a hidden location, the owner of the voice saw powerful magic being flung towards large groups of rats, obliterating them, yet not matter how many rats they slay, more come to replace them. The owner then saw the owner of some of this magic, a white-haired, male human with a good build for his kind, defending a group of wounded Alliance soldiers from the rats.

"Cut off from the rest of the Alliance and exhausting himself by protecting the weak. How ripe of an opportunity this is." Thought the voice before springing into action.


Meanwhile

Jack


Jack was blinking heavily as he stirred himself back to consciousness, feeling a headache forming up. Groaning, he sat up from the ground he was in to see Forsaken and other Horde soldiers scrambling to fight off something.

Grabbing his head, which had his helmet on, Jack thought back to what happened before he was knocked unconscious.

One moment he had been discussing with Sylvanas over the Iron Horde, himself and her sister's relations with him when suddenly explosions permeated all over the Horde camp he was in. The explosions happened so quick and fast that Jack couldn't do much as he fell off the watch tower he was in with Sylvanas as it was destroyed by an explosion. Thankfully his jump pack saved him from fatal damage, but it wasn't enough for him to not be knocked out. And so here he was. Waking up in the middle of a battlefield.

Shaking his head, Jack saw a Troll casting spells at something in front of it when a figure slammed into it from the Troll's left, tackling the Troll to the ground before several more figures came and went at the Troll. Jack could hear the Troll's screams as the figures began stabbing him with rusty swords or knives. It was then that Jack could see the figures clearly, focusing on them until he could make them out to be, to his shock, giant rats.

Man-sized rats with brown fur and beady red eyes. He saw them using their rusty knives and swords at the now dead Troll, even using their teeth to rip out chunks of flesh from the Troll, swallowing the juicy meat with a ferocity only hunger can give. After finishing off the Troll, they soon spotted Jack and began screeching out in hunger-enhanced fury. They then went on their hindlegs and charged at the helpless pilot, teeth gnashing, hungry for his flesh.

Seeing them come for him, Jack reached for his sidearm in order to defend himself. To his horror, he found that it was missing from it's thigh. Scrambling for his combat knife, Jack saw the rats raising their poor quality weapons high in the air as they readied to kill him.

Just as they were about to close in on their kill, a trio of arrows killed the front rats, embedding themselves in their foreheads and eyes, before the screams of a banshee were heard. A shadowy figure then landed amongst the remaining rats, spreading shadows all over the place, missing Jack by a few inches. Jack watched as the rats all died as the shadows entered their bodies, causing them to wither and decay before his eyes. From the shadows came Sylvanas, her ragged cloak even more so and her hood gone, allowing her long hair to splay out everywhere.

"Get up!" Yelled Sylvanas as she came over to Jack, hoisted him up, and placed his R-201 in his hands. "Prove to me that you're worthy of my sister now!" Still processing what was going on, Jack shook his head and nodded his head at her. With that, Sylvanas dragged him somewhere else, avoiding anymore rats and the screams of battle all over them. Eventually, they found a handful Orcs smashing their axes on a group of rats, finishing them off. Seeing them, Sylvanas was about to rally them when her ears heard the sounds of something coming at them. Then, before she knew it, a few small globes landed on near the Orcs. Upon landing, the globes broke, releasing green gas all over the Orcs and rats. She then heard the them scream out in pain as they wrenched and fell to the ground, dead.

Gritting her teeth, she then looked up to see more of those globes flying towards the camp, crashing all over the place, uncaring where they hit. Sylvanas, seeing the danger they were in, dragged Jack along as she tried to avoid all the globes falling all around them.

"The hell is all this?" Asked Jack as they ran, avoiding the globes whenever possible. The gas released from the globes dissipated a few seconds after release, but that seemed to be just enough to kill someone. As they witnessed just a few seconds ago. "Who the fuck is attacking us?!"

"Just keep running!" Yelled Sylvanas. Although she also wondered what was attacking them. It was clearly rats, but these large and bipedal rats were nothing like she's seen before with the exception of Ikit. A part of her suspected treachery from that rat, but given his allegiance to Jack, and the fact those rats attempted to kill him, it couldn't be him. Though she made a note to shake off information about these rats from that one. "We need to gat…"

She couldn't say anymore when the ground beneath them suddenly erupted and out came a massive rat, even larger than a Tauren warrior, filled with stiches and missing patches of fur, sending the two flying away from each other and to the ground. Roaring out, the giant looked at Sylvanas and grabbed her leg before smashing the undead elf to the ground multiple times, roaring out as it did so. Before it could finish off the undead being by ripping her in half, Jack pumped a full magazine to it's torso, causing it to roar out in pain, dropping the elf before glaring at the source of the bullets.

"Aw shit." Said Jack as the massive rat thing tossed Sylvanas away before charging at him, going on all fours to do so. Reloading his gun, Jack moved out of the way of the charging rat, watching as it crashed into a makeshift tent, causing fabrics to go all over it. As the rat tried to remove the fabrics from it, Jack aimed his gun at the flaying rat abomination. When it ripped a hole of the fabric for it's head, Jack pumped his entire magazine into it. The human watched in astonishment as the rat's head held for around twelve or ten round before they pierced and killed the rat by embedding themselves in it's brain, killing it. Watching as the giant rat fell down, dead, Jack went over to where Sylvanas was thrown, checking to see if she's alright.

Upon getting there, Jack cursed as he saw her unconscious with black blood dripping from her forehead. Not knowing if she was suffering from internal bleeding or hemorrhaging of the brain, Jack cautiously lifted her up and gently carried to where he could hear shouts of Horde soldiers, hoping that they won't find anymore rats on their way to friendly territory.

Luck, wouldn't be on their side, however, as three rats, just the human-sized ones thankfully, appeared before them, wearing black cloaks and wielding swords on each hand, the edges glowing with some green substance.

Cursing under his breath, Jack aimed his rifle at the trio of rats as they clicked and twitched in front of him. Just as they were about to attack, they suddenly twitched around and dodged out of the way of a volley of arrows.

"For the dark lady!" Yelled an undead warrior as a group of Forsaken charged at the rats, swords and spears at the ready. Seeing them outnumbered, the rats quickly left the scene, using smoke bombs to hide their escape. With their enemies gone, the Forsaken gathered around Jack, who then carefully gave Sylvanas to one of them.

"She's bleeding from her head. We got to treat it. Any of you a healer?" Asked Jack as one of the Forsaken checked the condition of the banshee queen.

"We must get her to safety." Said the Forsaken soldier. "This place is too dangerous for her." The soldier then looked at Jack. "Guard me while I tend to our fallen leader." Jack just nodded as he joined the other Forsaken in guarding the soldier as he tended to Sylvanas.

A few minutes passed and just as the soldier finished tending to Sylvanas, the ground beneath them began to shake violently, sending a few to the ground. Before anyone could speak, the ground began to gave in all around them, crack forming up, causing Horde soldiers to fall to their death, and their surrounding began to sink beneath the ground.


Present

Master Chief


"What happened here?" Asked Chief to a blood elf ranger as he was being tended to by a blood elf priest, healing him with her magic. These two were among the few survivors of the Horde camp that survived whatever had attacked them. What few healers they had were tending to the wounded, which nearly everyone was, including themselves. Besides the small camp they set up, there were clothed bodies of those that died in the attack. Unfortunately, there were so few of them that many Horde soldiers were unaccounted for and Chief suspected it was the same with the Alliance. The blood elf ranger gave a small wince as the priest healed a rather serious wound on his left leg before speaking.

"Rats." Said the elf as he recalled. "Rats the size of humans, maybe a bit shorter, but that doesn't matter. They burst from the ground all around us and began attacking. They took us completely by surprise. We lost so many warriors from them before we could regroup. And then that happened." The elf looked at the massive hole of where the Horde main camp used to be. Chief, looking at the hole, wondered what this all meant. Man-sized rats? Could Ikit's own people be here as well? If so, they needed him here. To tell them the strengths and weaknesses of his people in order to gain a fighting chance against them. It would take some time for him to get here, but he'll be needed if they're going to conduct search and rescue operations for the people that survived the collapse of the Horde and Alliance camps. The hole looked deep enough to prevent people from surviving such a fall, but considering magic and the like in this world, he suspected some survived and that it was his duty to, at least, attempt to rescue them, considering they're his allies at the moment. But in order to attempt that, he needed knowledge on these rats. Knowledge that Ikit might be able to give them.

"How did this happen?" Asked Chief, needing more info.

"Well, I was at the outer edges of the camp, fighting off those vermin, so I couldn't tell. I was too focused on staying alive to give you much. But what I do know is that I heard massive tremors coming below before the ground starting to sink before my very eyes. I was so distracted that one of those vermin bit my leg and brought me down. If it weren't for an Orc tossing it away towards the hole, I might not be here to tell you all this." Said the blood elf as he recalled all that happened.

"Which of your leaders was in the camp when all this happened?" Asked Chief, needing to know which Horde leaders were present so they can rescue them.

"Only Sylvanas." Said the blood elf. "Thrall was out fighting the Iron Horde in the frontline along with the warchief and Saurfang." Chief nodded at that before letting the priest tend to the wounded. Walking over to the edges of the hole, Chief contacted BT, telling him to send a message to Cortana that they need more reinforcements, including Ikit.

"If he refuses to go, tell him that we encountered rats similar to him and that he has the chance to test his new toys. That should get him to come." Said Chief, causing BT to acknowledge in confirmation before sending the message. As the machine did so, Chief looked at the hole and thought of Jack.

'We're coming for you. Stay strong soldier." Thought Chief as he got ready to go down and find Jack, Sylvanas, and whoever else they can save.


Meanwhile

Hole


In the dark and murky hole that had been recently created, a single human began to blink as he stirred. Groaning, Jack shook his head as he opened his eyes. Opening his eyes, Jack could see that he was buried under a few rocks, not enough to crush him to death, but enough to keep him down unless he moved them off him. Around him, he saw the bodies of horde warriors all around him. Some of them groaning or barely breathing, one of which was in front of him, a Tauren warrior. He was about to tell him to stay calm and that he'll help him when he heard the chittering and yelling of rats.

"Stupid horde-things. Fell for trap. Yes-yes. Skaven true brains." Said a man-sized rat as it along with around forty other rats began to show in Jack's vision. The rat that spoke wore makeshift armor of metal and leather that fitted it's body somehow. The other rats were wearing only worn leather for protection with the only metal on them being their helmets. The better equipped rat, upon seeing the horde warriors before him, began issuing commands to it's other rats. "Take horde-things, minions. Take them to Under-lands. We use them for food and experiments, yes-yes! Take everything! For lord-Skitterish!" The other rats did what they were told and began forcibly dragging horde warriors with them, uncaring to their groans of pain. Those Horde warriors that tried to fight back or looked like they could fight were quickly killed with a simple rusty blade to the head.

Cursing in his head, Jack watched as the rats began making their way towards him, killing any horde warriors they saw. They were going to be near him soon and he doubted they won't see him, especially with how his helmet's visor glowed.

Just as the rats walked up to his general location, the Tauren in front of Jack looked at him, nodded, before roaring out, getting up, albeit weakly, and tossing the stones away from Jack freeing him. It then roared at the rats, which screeched out in horror and began fleeing from the Tauren before their leader killed one of them for running and ordering the rest to attack.

Meeting the rats head on, the Tauren smashed one to a pulp before three rats jumped on his back and began stabbing him with their rusty blades. Trying to get them off his back, the Tauren received several worn and battered spears to the chest, followed by several rats tackling him in the front, gnawing and stabbing at the Tauren.

Jack, meanwhile, was retreating away from the fight. Prior to the Tauren fighting off the rats, it looked at Jack and, in his eyes, he asked Jack to retreat, to tell people of what happened here and what these rats are. Much as Jack hated the idea of running away, he knew that it was necessary. People had to know about these rats, especially Ikit Claw. So, with a heavy heart, Jack ran from the conflict as the rats were distracted with the big, intimidating Tauren.

As he retreated, the rat leader saw him running away from them as his rats killed the Tauren. Growling, he ordered several to catch the human as it entered a big tunnel of artificial making.


Meanwhile


"But Chief we need to go now!" Yelled High Elf Archer as she glared at Chief as he stared back at the elf. "Jack and the countless other people are in danger and we need to help them now!"

"We can't. We don't have either the equipment or the knowledge we need to safely go down and conduct rescue operations." Said Chief. "Ikit's people are down there and they're hostile. We need to wait until Cortana sends reinforcements to help us and for Ikit to arrive. If we go now, we run the risk of getting ourselves killed and anyone that comes with us. So we won't be of any help to those down there." High Elf wanted to continue arguing when Courier came up.

"He's right." Said Courier. "We're just going to get ourselves killed. We don't know much of Ikit's people and their capabilities. We're going in unknown territory with no idea where to go and with just the stuff we have at hand. We're going to lose a lot more people going in now than going in later and better prepared. Trust me, High Elf, it sucks. People are going to die because of this decision, but people are going to die regardless of what choice we make. The best we can do is minimize them, both for the people doing the rescuing and needing to be rescued." High Elf crunched up her face before stomping off, pissed at their decision. Sighing, Courier looked over at Chief and told him he'll talk with her further about this. Chief nodded at that, knowing he was better at this than him. Once both of them were gone, Chief looked at the hole that had consumed the Alliance camp.

After BT contacted Cortana to send additional reinforcements, the two went over to where the Alliance camp was to speak with Courier and High Elf Archer to find what information they discerned from the Alliance situation, only to find that it was similar to the Hordes'. Humanoid rats attacked them prior to their camp being sunk, taking whatever Alliance soldiers and troops were in the camp when it sunk, delaying their attack on the Iron Horde considerably. Chief knew that they had to make a makeshift defensive perimeter in case the Iron Horde figures out what happened and send forces to wipe out whatever forces they find here.

Fortunately, the Alliance and Horde were sending reinforcements here to do just that. Several messengers had been sent to both Stormwind and Orgrimmar about what happened and, via portals, soldiers and mages were arriving, stunned momentarily at the site before them. Leading them was Varian Wrynn himself. When he arrived Chief told him the situation, telling him all they knew and that rescuing survivors of both Horde and Alliance are a priority given that they were facing an unknown enemy and they needed all information they could get on them, to which Varian surprisingly agreed on, though he ordered his forces to only focus on saving their own people and not the Horde.

After that discussion, the Alliance forces went to work on both securing a perimeter and fortifying it against any Iron Horde assaults and assaults from those rat-men. To avoid sending more people to their deaths, a small team of experienced Alliance warriors were accompanying team Sigma, which was separating into teams of two, one for Horde and one for Alliance, to save as many lives as they possibly could, while the rest hold the perimeter.

Chief was going to work with Ikit while Courier and High Elf were working with each other. BT, to his dismay because he wanted to save his pilot, was being left behind due to his large chassis being impractical in what was likely small and tight area. Courier promised that they'll do what they can to save Jack, to which BT gave a thumbs up in gratefulness. That Courier, he always knew what to do to make people see his way that radically disagreed with his stance and plans to the point of potential insubordination.

"Not like me." Thought Chief, looking at High Elf Archer. He always worked with people that understood and agreed with his plans. Even if they didn't, they still followed him because they trusted him and his ability to succeed and get them out of a mission alive. Never going to the point of yelling into his face about how they disagreed with his plans. Perhaps that was more a problem with High Elf being not a soldier and he was? She didn't see the things he did and what made him such a battle-hardened soldier. Courier, however, did. Even if it wasn't to the same extent as him, it was clear he saw some bad things that made him understand that sometimes making the immoral decision was better for your people, no matter how much they see otherwise.

Thinking this more, Chief almost didn't recognize Varian as he made his way to him.

"I see that you are thinking about your allies' disagreement on your idea of waiting for reinforcements." Said Varian, having seen and heard the yelling of High Elf Archer and her stomping off away from her leader. He waited until Chief was alone to speak with the green warrior from another world. It was clear to Varian that team Sigma was from another world, with all their strange, yet powerful equipment. What astounded him was the fact three of their party was human. If that was the case, were their more humans out there? Humans with technology that surpassed the gnomes and Dwarves in sophistication and power? If so, could they help with their plight with the Horde?

"She does." Said Chief, looking at Courier and High Elf talking, one obviously trying to calm the other and see their points. "She thinks we're endangering the lives of those down there by waiting for more experienced soldiers to arrive."

"I see." Said Varian, looking down at the crater before them. "I can see her point, but I also see yours. If these rat-men are as dangerous as I believe, then we're just sending our people to their deaths in fighting them without a supposed expert about them here to guide us in their tactics." Chief nodded at that. "You're sure that your own rat knows about these rats?"

"He was ecstatic and stunned upon hearing the description of our enemy." Said Chief. Varian hummed at that, but nodded his head. The two warriors looked at the crater for a few moments before Varian spoke.

"You know, when I first heard your stance about being neutral, providing aide to both Horde and Alliance, I was disappointed to hear that you'll side with those monsters that did many horrible deeds in the past." Said Varian. "But, thinking on it now, I can see why you would do so." Chief slightly turned his head to Varian, who took it as a sign to continue. "When we captured Garrosh, I saw the Horde leaders that rebelled against Garrosh appoint Vol'jin as their new warchief. I saw them all bow and kneel before him as if he was their one true leader. I saw that…they are as honorable as they claim to be."

"Is that why you choose to not destroy them when you have the chance?" Asked Chief, having heard from Jack, who heard it from Vereesa, who heard it from Jaina, who was angry at Varian for not seizing the chance to destroy the Horde once and for all, that Varian decided to choose to let the Horde live on when he had a chance to destroy them all.

"Yes and no." Said Varian, looking at Chief's golden visor. "When Garrosh was defeated, Thrall, the previous leader of the Horde, tried to kill him. Just before he did so, he claimed Garrosh was a disappointment and that he wasn't worthy of his father's legacy. I stopped him before he killed the Orc, but as I did so, I saw the anger and hatred he had for Garrosh. The…hurt he had that Garrosh killed so many and destroyed so much with the Horde he created. It, along with the previous reason, stayed my hand. But I must admit, my son had a hand in it."

"Your son Anduin?" Asked Chief, recalling from rumors and stories about Varian's son that he was the complete opposite of Varian. Where Varian was aggressive and called for war, Anduin was passive and called for peace. He heard the two were polar opposite of each other when it comes to the Horde. Varian wanted to dismantle them for all they've done while Anduin believed cooperation can be achieved and that peace can be done between the two superpowers. This led to clashes between the two, rumored to be legendary amongst their household's servants, yet they loved each other very much.

"Yes." Said Varian. "Perhaps his naïve views have begun to rub off on me, but perhaps he is right that peace can be achieved with the Horde. We fought against the Lich King not long ago. We fought against Deathwing and his forces. We even fought against Garrosh and his loyalists. There is proof that we can work in harmony yet we constantly are at war with each other." Chief nodded at that. The two stayed silent for a moment before Chief spoke.

"Is there someone you want me to find?" Asked Chief, doubting Varian will confront him without something he wants him to do. Varian nodded before speaking.

"There was a mage named Khadgar." Said Varian. "He's a powerful mage that had lived through the first Orc invasion of Azeroth. He's was alive when my father was alive and helped us fight off the Orcs in their first invasion. And he's been of great help to the Alliance since. It was him that gathered the forces necessary to fight off the Iron Horde and helped us deal with some of their operations. He intended to spearhead the assault on their gate and take the fight to the Iron Horde's homeworld, both to figure out what was going on and to stop it. I wasn't particularly close to him, but he is a good man and I wish to see him safe and sound."

"If I find him, I'll make sure to bring him back." Said Chief.

"You'll have my gratitude if you do." Said Varian before sighing. "I wish I could join you, but my duties as high king of the Alliance force me to other tasks. The best I could do now is wish you luck and provide you troops to help your mission in saving my people." Chief nodded at that. With that done, Varian left the spartan alone. As he did, a Pelican transport arrived with a few more transports, carrying Titans and Spectre robots. As soon as that Pelican landed, Ikit jumped off and ran towards Chief.

"Skaven people here-here!? This bad news! Yes-yes!" Yelled Ikit as he stopped before Chief, panting and twitching as he did so.

"If your people are here, we need advice to deal with them." Said Chief. Ikit nodded at that.

"Then gather people-slaves! Me only saying things once only! Yes-yes!" Yelled Ikit as his suit, now fully dry, powered up more. Chief nodded at that before leading Ikit to where Courier and High Elf were.


Meanwhile

Jack


"Damn." Said Jack as he sat in a cave he found in the tunnel he was running in. He needed a moment's rest before he could walk again. As he rested, he checked his equipment and condition.

His helmet was a bit damaged, cracks were everywhere in his visor, impeding it's functions, but everything was operating well enough for now for him to see through the dark cave network he was in. All of his limbs were fine, nothing was sprained or hurt from that fall, miraculously. He only had a knife with him for weapons and nothing else. So, overall, he was fine except in terms of armaments.

Groaning, Jack wondered what to do when he heard the sounds of groaning. A woman's groans. Stunned to hear that, Jack followed the groans, hoping for another survivor. Getting closer and closer to the source, he eventually found some black blood on the floor nearby and he followed the blood, which lead to trail of more blood. Following the trail, he eventually found it led to a grotto, where he found red blood along with the black blood. Getting inside, he heard the sounds of grunting and the sounds of a knife being pulled out of something. Looking at the source, Jack saw Sylvanas ripping a hunter knife from a dead rat and about to throw it when Jack yelled out.

"Whoa it's me, Jack Cooper." Said Jack, holding out it's hands in surrender. Upon hearing his name and his voice, Sylvanas lowered her knife and gave a grunt.

"You survived too?" Asked Sylvanas. "I'm impressed. I thought I was the only one to survive." Seeing her stand down, Jack looked around the grotto to see a dead rat and a quiver full of arrows but no bow.

"Not the only one." Said Jack as he went over to Sylvanas, seeing that she was holding her waist, which was leaking some blood. "Some other survivors made it out of that collapse, but they got taken by…"

"The rats?" Asked Sylvanas mockingly. "I know. I woke up being dragged by this thing to somewhere. Killed it before it noticed anything wrong and hid here." She then grunted as Jack kneeled down and pulled her hands away from her wound, seeing a chunk of flesh missing. "Unfortunately, these rats are more resilient than I thought and he ripped a portion of my flesh away before dying."

"These things are strong." Noted Jack before bringing out an emergency med kit and began applying first aid to Sylvanas. "Seen a few kill a Troll with nothing but rusty weapons and their teeth. And some of them looked malnourished too. Could see their bones sticking to their flesh."

"I see." Said Sylvanas, wincing a bit when Jack sprayed some disinfection on her wound before rapping all his remaining bandages around her waist.

"That'll do for now until we get you a real doctor." Said Jack as he helped Sylvanas up.

"You really think those rats won't find us before our allies do?" Asked Sylvanas.

"I don't know." Said Jack, honestly. "But I'm not giving up and letting those rats win because it seems unlikely our friends will save us. Not how I work." Sylvanas gave a grunt at that.

"Vereesa did choose well." Said Sylvanas. "If we survive this, you have my approval to date my sister and have offspring with her.

"Gee, thanks." Said Jack as the two walked out of the grotto. "Any ideas?"

"We can't wait here." Said Sylvanas. "Those rats will eventually smell the blood here and find us. We need to find a better hiding spot. Follow me." She then lead Jack away from the grotto, hoping to find someplace that wasn't infested with rats.


Meanwhile


In an unknown location, a single white-haired man stirred. Sitting up, the man rotated his arms to relieve the stiffness that plagued them. After doing so, he looked around his surroundings and was shocked at what he saw.

Around him were various races of the Alliance fighting off against those rats that had attacked them while they were preparing to assault the dark portal, all of them stuck in place, not moving or breathing. They just stood still. Some of them up in the air somehow and their expressions stuck. Nothing of them was moving.

Getting up, the man looked around his surroundings. It looked like the Alliance camp he was in the Blasted Lands, but something was off. Something was very wrong where he was. Thinking back to what happened in the Blasted Lands, he recalled fighting off rats that were attacking the wounded when suddenly a great light appeared behind him. When he turned he saw another bright green light occur, blinding him and knocking him out. Wondering how this correlated to his current surroundings, he heard the sounds of someone laughing. Someone laughing with some sort of metallic tone.

"I see that you are fully awakened now." Said a robotic voice as the sound of dull thumbing coming towards the man. "Good. This gallery would not be nearly as pristine if you were unconscious." Looking around for that source of that voice, he heard the robotic voice chuckling again. "It's rare for you to act like this, correct? Powerless. Stuck in an unknown location? No idea if you will live to see the light of day again? Well, I assure you, you won't need to worry about that anymore. Khadgar of the Alliance." The owner of the voice finally appeared in Khadgar's vision, moving out of the way of a Dwarven tank, revealing them to be a tall, metallic figure with the look of a human skeleton with green, soulless eyes. His chest had veins in it that glowed green. In the middle of his chest was a golden coffin-like shape that held a symbol on it that Khadgar had no knowledge on. The figure had a metal, segmented, cape that was held in place by golden shoulder plates and the cape shaped into a metallic hood-like shape that ended near the figure's head. Before Khadgar could express his shock at seeing such a figure, it spoke, it's voice sending shivers done the man's spine, even though it's tone was rather nonthreatening. "For you will be forever be part of the galleries of Solemnace." Before Khadgar could even speak, his body suddenly began to move on it's own. Despite his attempts to stop and control his body, it refused to listen to him, eventually adopting a casting stance against a giant rat coming at a group of wounded Alliance soldiers, with him being the only thing that was between it and them. The figure chuckled as Khadgar's face adopted a fierce and determined look before going towards Khadgar and bringing out his staff, placing it in his free hand and making the mage hold it firmly.

"Yes." Said the metallic figure as it moved away from Khadgar and away from the location in general. Once he passed a tree, the scenery changed from the bright and war-filled place of an Alliance camp under siege to that of a dark, metallic hallway with green lightning that lit the hallway. Turning back, the figure nodded in satisfaction at what was before him. "Yes. Very good. Such a fine gallery. Though backwatered and archaic compared to the rest, there's still something amusing and worthy in preserving the battles of those that lack the ability for space travel. In addition, you have something that my own galaxy lacks and that is something that I must acquire for my galleries. For posterity of course. After all, one's place in a historic battle can only be preserved correctly if preserved in their final moments. You all understand, yes?" Hearing no response, the figure simply chuckled. "Of course, you do. Night Elves. Humans. Dwarves. Members of your *Chuckles* Alliance. The master of Solemnace thanks you all for contributing yourselves to the galleries of his tomb world. But don't feel as if your being selfish. Soon, others of your ranks will join you in helping to preserve your culture and great battles, both past and future. This, I swear." With that the figure went down the hallway, his current task done and now he must focus on other things. As he was walking down, he heard the sounds of someone approaching him. Looking forward, the figure saw another metallic figure, designed similarly to him, only one big, green eye instead of two, and possessing a golden headdress that wrapped around his head.

"Ah, Orikan. What news do you bring to me?" Asked the first figure as the named Orikan walked closer to him.

"I've come to inform you that the Szarekh is becoming impatient with you. You promised to aid his mission in establishing the Pariah Nexus, yet your promised aids came only in the form of meager forces from your own tomb world. Forces that are pitiful compared to the forces of the Sautekh Dynasty and the others. It's only a matter of time before the Silent King orders you to come forth and explain." Said Orikan. Despite that threat, the figure just chuckled.

"I assure you, Orikan." Said the figure. "More aid will come. Once my investment with the Old God N'Zoth comes to pass, I'll eagerly spend all of Solemnace's military forces in protecting the Nexus. So long as our king can adequately assure it's protection from the Imperium and the Aeldari. I've heard both are causing trouble as of late for the dynasties." Instead of being reassured, Orikan's eye glowed even brighter.

"And I assure you, Trazyn, that Szarekh is becoming increasingly agitated with you." Warned Orikan. "The nexus is almost complete. The human forces endangering it have been destroyed and the Aeldari are being rebelled whenever they appear. Without those distractions, the nexus is nearing completion and the exodus will soon commence. I assure you, if Szarekh does not have more adequate aid from you, he will send his agents to figure out what is going on and I will have no choice but to reveal what is happening. And I assure you, the futures I've seen when he figures out what you've been up to are not bright for you." Again, the now named Trazyn chuckled.

"You wound me Orikan. Do you really expect me to not plan for this outcome? I assure you, I have plenty of things in hand that will assure my head will be perfectly safe from Szarekh's wrath." Said Trazyn. Orikan just stayed silent at that.

"…Very well. Be warned though, it better be something sufficient enough to abstain Szarekh's wrath." Said Orikan. "I will divine more futures for you in the meantime. The recent successes against our foes have assured some of my time be spared for you."

"Excellent." Said Trazyn. "Do delve into the future for me, Orikan. I very much wish to have good fortunes for my future galleries." Orikan said nothing as the two ventured deeper and deeper into the dark hallway, taking the rest of the trip in silence.